“If we are arguing personhood,” said Eric Johnston, the president of the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition, “then it does not matter how a child is conceived.” Late last night, Alabama passed a total abortion ban passed in the state after an amendment that would have made an exemption to the law in cases of rape or incest failed. (The ban does have an exemption for cases in which a woman’s life is in danger.) Johnston had helped draft the bill. If it’s signed into law and allowed to take effect, doctors who perform abortions on women at any stage of pregnancy could face 99 years in prison.
In the lead up to the vote, Republican Rep. Terri Collins was even clearer, arguing that “[o]ur bill says that a baby in the womb is a person.” Collins is a cosponsor on the bill, which she hopes will help overturn Roe v. Wade. In Alabama, as in Georgia and Ohio, which both passed extreme abortion bills earlier this month, a clump of cells now has more rights than an adult woman—or, as CBS News pointed out, an sixth grader. Under the Ohio law, for example, a pregnant 11-year-old rape victim would no longer be allowed to have an abortion.
Yes, ICYMI: Republicans want to overturn Roe. They want to take away the right to have a safe abortion. They want to send us right back to America pre-1973. But it’s not just about Roe. Under Donald Trump, a man who’s had a lot of sexual relationships with a lot of women who aren’t his wife, the GOP has declared an open war on women’s reproductive health. It seems we can’t reach the end of a week without a new crisis, some gruesome legislative nightmare explicitly crafted to rein in our rights. It’s 2019, and Republicans have an unquenchable thirst for the Handmaid’s Tale agenda.
Lately, the crusade has taken the form of “heartbeat bills,” which ban abortion before most women even know they’re pregnant at around six weeks. (That’s a little after one late period, although presumably most of the men who wrote these bills are unfamiliar with how menstruation works.) Other efforts have attempted to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides life-saving mammograms and pap smears to millions of people, using a sneaky Title X “Gag Rule.” But inevitably, there’s more to come. The GOP has one goal when it comes to women—strip us of our rights to reproductive health care and the freedom to live the lives we choose.
Since the appointment of Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, state and local Republicans have doubled down on their plan to regulate women’s bodies. And why not? For the first time since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, the makeup of the court is so conservative that it’s entirely possible the decision will soon be struck from the books.
We could scream ourselves hoarse, calling out how highly strange and deeply hypocritical it is that the supposed party of small government wants to squeeze itself inside women’s uteruses. Or we could acknowledge what’s really going on here: It’s not a set of ideological principles that motivates the Republican Party. It’s a desire to control women, to limit our possibilities and our potential, to beat back the gains of feminism and civil rights, and to do all that on a platform of coercion, intimidation, and misinformation. Of course, there are some good actors in the Republican Party (likely Catholics) who truly believe that life begins at conception. I don’t believe that, but at least I understand where those people are coming from. Most anti-choice sentiment isn’t that.